Film and TV Composers Settle Class Action Suit Against ABC and Viacom for $25.4 Million

By • February 27, 2003

LOS ANGELES (Film Music Magazine) — Veteran composers Fred Steiner (“Perry Mason” Theme, “Star Trek,” “Mrs. Doubtfire”), Nathan East (bassist, featured on albums by artists including Eric Clapton and Justin Timberlake), William Goldstein (“Hello Again,” “Miracle at Midnight,” “Fame”) and Chuckii Booker, (instrumentalist for Diana Ross, Janet Jackson, Vanessa Williams, Lionel Ritchie and Tina Turner), have announced a conditional $25.4 million settlement with a group of broadcast related companies who the composers sued for alleged unlicensed usage of music on the hit daytime dramas “General Hospital,” “All My Children,” and “One Life to Live.”

Named in the suit and settlement were a group of companies related to the programs including American Broadcasting Companies (ABC); Viacom entities Worldvision Enterprises, Inc., Spelling Satellite Networks, Inc, and Image Edit, Inc.; DirectTV Latin America LLC; Video Services Corporation; and Audio Plus Video International, Inc.

The U.S. District Court in Los Angeles conditionally certified the composers’ request for class action status on behalf of thousands of composers, publishers, and record companies whose music was used on the shows dating back to the mid 1980s. The composers allege that ABC and the other defendants engaged in willful copyright infringement of thousands of musical compositions and sound recordings which were used in the ABC daytime dramas without the permission of the copyright owners.

The composers are represented by attorneys Jeffrey L.. Graubart, Maxwell M. Blecher and David W. Kesselman.

Graubart said, “Because the legal rights of many composers are often ignored by Hollywood with near impunity, it has been quite gratifying to be instrumental in affecting the lives of many talented creators in the music industry in such a positive manner, but much of the credit for the success in reaching this settlement belongs to Chuckii Booker, Nathan East, Bill Goldstein and Fred Steiner for bringing this action on behalf of their fellow creators.”

This settlement brings in to question whether other daytime drama producers have been using music without proper permission of the copyright owners. Graubart’s law firm is currently representing composer Rodney T. Franklin in a suit against Twentieth Century Fox International Television, Inc. and New World Television Productions, Inc. which alleges unauthorized usage of music on the daytime drama “Santa Barbara.”

The settlement monies in the ABC/Viacom case will be paid to entitled class members who also file claim forms. Gilardi & Company (http://www.gilardi.com) has been designated as the administrator of the settlement, and further information will be available on their website soon including a list compiled from cue sheets of composers and publishers whose music was used on the television programs. Funds left unclaimed will be paid to appropriate charitable or non-profit organizations benefiting the music industry.

Comments

By chandra wilson on November 16th, 2008 at 7:37 pm

Mark,

it is great to know that chucky booker was involved in this. i know his fiance well and she is pleased.
blessed day,
chandra

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